By Lynn Burkhead

Herald Democrat

In the minds of many Texas deer hunters, the best time to rattle is in the heart of the annual rut.

While the tactic can certainly work wonders then, here in North Texas, the unfortunate truth is that the craziness of the annual breeding frenzy is now fading into the rear view mirror for another year.

But don’t put up your rattling horns just yet since early December is a great time to try and rattle in a wise old buck during the early stages of the post-rut.

But don’t take my word for it.

Instead, take the word of Mike Hanback, author of Mike Hanback’s Big Deer Blog ( and the popular TV show host of the Big Deer television program on Sportsman Channel.

“For the last few years I’ve been telling anyone who would listen that the first weeks of the post-rut, when gnarly old bucks cruise for the last hot does, are prime for trophy hunting,” wrote Hanback a few years ago in an article for Outdoor Life magazine (The story was entitled Deer Hunting Tips: Rattling Research That Will Help You Get Your Buck).

Hanback isn’t alone in that contention either.

“Once the rut starts winding down, it’s a good time to rattle again,” agrees Realtree Outdoors executive producer David Blanton. “A lot of does have come in and out of heat, but the bucks are still aggressive.”

Such thoughts are backed up with biological science in addition to in-the-field hunting observations. That is apparent after a much discussed study in South Texas several years ago by wildlife biologist Dr. Mick Hellickson who noted that the best time to rattle up a mature buck is in fact…you guessed it…during the post rut.

Which is exactly why you should have your set of rattling horns, a rattling bag or a synthetic rattling system in hand over the next week or two if you’re going to climb up into a North Texas treestand.

Because while antler rattling might not work each and every time you try it in early December, it can work often enough.

Maybe even when you cross paths with one last heavy horned buck spoiling for one final autumn fight as he searches for another doe in estrous.

With any luck, the act of clashing your rattling horns together again will bring the kind of Christmas present that most deer hunters love most.

And that’s a visit to your favorite taxidermist’s shop.